Pentagon’s New Leadership Accelerating Data-Centric Efforts


Chief Data Officer David Spirk said the deputy secretary of defense is providing “direct support” as they work through data decrees and open standards. 

The Defense Department will soon see new data decrees as the organization works to figure out how to use data to create operational advantage, according to the agency’s chief data officer. 

“We believe a big next step is going to be the issuance of what we're calling data decrees, similar to some of the other big internet leaders in 2002 who kind of snapped the chalk lines and said ‘no new bad,’” David Spirk, DOD’s chief data officer said Thursday during FedScoop’s IT Modernization Summit. 

Spirk said he is working with Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks on the decrees. Hicks and senior support team have provided “direct support” for continuing the push to make DOD a data-centric organization as laid out in the enterprisewide data strategy released in October 2020, he added. 

“Not only are we on path,” Spirk said, “but the expectation is that we will accelerate and their leadership has really allowed us the opportunity to describe exactly those steps we would take to accelerate.”

Spirk said he’s also working on a plan to help get major data programs like Advana, which integrates business systems into a unified platform, into the hands of the combatant commands. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that those systems can continue to be tailored using continuous integration, continuous delivery pipelines. That plan will be presented to Hicks “soon,” Spirk said. 

One type of standard Spirk said will not fly at DOD moving forward is a common data standard. Instead, the department will be publishing open data standard architecture requirements. Sprik doesn’t want one “data standard to rule them all,” he said. 

“That, I think, is exactly how we’ve gotten to where we are with a ton of data debt over the last 40 or 50 years, because we’ve tried to overmodel to one thing which by design always trails industry and will always cause proprietary lock,” Spirk said. “We want an open data standard architecture where any new industry capability that comes in, we can swim to and move to.”